|Ex-franklin Priest Loses Appeal of Sentence in Sex Case
By Michael Deak
Home News Tribune
December 26, 2008
FRANKLIN (Somerset) — A 75-year-old former priest now serving a sentence for sexually assaulting a 12-year-old boy two years ago has lost his appeal to have his sentence reduced.
Township resident Eugene Corbesero, 75, was sentenced to five years in prison Oct. 5, 2007, by state Superior Court Judge Paul Armstrong after pleading guilty to sexual assault and endangering the welfare of a minor.
Corbesero, who is serving the sentence at the Mid-State Correctional Facility in Wrightstown, will be eligible for parole on Dec. 31, 2011.
Corbesero also appealed his denial into the Pre-Trial Intervention program which, if successfully completed, could have resulted in the dismissal of the charges.
Corbesero, who court documents say was a former priest at the time of the incident, pleaded guilty to molesting a 12-year-old boy who was attending a sleepover at Corbesero's home on Aug. 16, 2006.
Corbesero had been a Roman Catholic priest with the Consolata Society for Foreign Missions in the township.
After the incident, according to court papers, the boy left the bedroom where the incident occurred and called both 911 and his mother. Corbesero, who was 73 at the time, was arrested and charged with sexual assault and endangering the welfare of a child.
Corbesero applied for admission into the PTI program but was rejected because of the serious nature of the offenses, court papers indicate.
Instead of appealing the PTI denial, Corbesero pleaded guilty to the second-degree charges and then filed a motion to be admitted into the PTI program, claiming his attorney had misunderstood Corbesero's appeal rights.
But Armstrong agreed with the Somerset County Prosecutor's Office that the appeal was "untimely." The judge also found that the prosecutor's office had not committed "any gross and patent abuse of discretion" in denying Corbesero admission to the PTI program.
"Child molesting is not a victimless crime; it is a serious and traumatic violation of the child's person," the appellate court wrote, noting that those charged with second-degree crimes are usually denied admission to PTI.
The appellate court also found that Armstrong made "no error" in sentencing Corbesero to five years, the minimum for a second-degree offense.
"(Corbesero) was a caregiver who breached his duty of care," the appellate court wrote.
Michael Deak: 908-707-3134; mdeak@MyCentralJersey.com
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